A very Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul Travel Blog› entry 144 of 251 › view all entries
July 14th, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Istanbulâ€™s Grand Bazaar is a collection of about 4000 shops and cafes. Itâ€™s like a really big, sprawling, single-level shopping mall. It was built originally in 1450-ish, but has been nearly destroyed by fire twice since then, so I believe the structure (stone or tile floor, archways, wide halls and narrow passages, fountains) is newerâ€¦ although it looks old. I was surprised to walk into the main archway and find a soaring ceiling, wide hall, and such a grand spaceâ€¦I was expecting a rabbit warren, maybe a dirt floor, and narrow alleys, kind of like I experienced in Morocco.
We hadnâ€™t been there 30 seconds before we were invited to tea â€¦ and oh, maybe weâ€™d like to look at some rugs, too. Then again, 2 minutes later! We quickly figured out that we needed to put away the map and just make our way steadily through. We were invited to take a closer look many times, but always the vendors were polite, and no one persisted after receiving a smile and a â€śno, thank you.â€ť
It turns out we had beat the crowds after all, as the place had a charged â€śpre-festivityâ€ť feel, like everyone was getting ready for a big party. The temperature was cool and comfortable, and Steve and I really enjoyed browsing and getting lost in the maze.
As we strolled along, Steve had his eye out for a mandolin. He has been looking for a cheap one to buy for the road.
For lunch, we went to Havuzlu, within the Grand Bazaar. Our host spoke eight languages and could even imitate a Texan accent. He kept coming over to check on usâ€¦â€ťhowdy folks, are yâ€™all doing OK over here?â€ť Very funny.
We strolled some more, but it was getting really busy and hot. Time to head out.
From there we walked by the Beyazit Camii (mosque) on our way to Suleymaniye Camii (Mosque of Suleyman). And since the University of Istanbul was on the way, we detoured through the campus. It had a wide path and lots of shady trees, so we lingered there. I wandered around the grounds, while Steve parked himself on a bench to tune his mandolin.
From there, we exited the campus and could see the Mosque of Suleyman, but were blocked from entering by a wall. There appeared to be funeral progression in the front courtyard. We spied on this awhile, walked this way and that wayâ€¦ and then gave up. It was getting hot and it felt like time to go home.
The commute back to our apartment was pretty horrendous. It took nearly two hours due to the traffic snarls along the way. I love the apartment and our view of the Bosphorus, but I sure wish it was a little closer to the action. Tomorrow we will avoid the commute and pursue activities a little closer to home.
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